An emotional Nurmagomedov announced in the moments after his UFC 254 win against Justin Gaethje that he was stepping away from the sport with a perfect record of 29-0, after making a commitment to his mother that he would not continue his combat career outside the influence of his late father Abdulmanap, who passed away in July.
However, the weeks which followed the Russian’s retirement have been plagued by speculation that Khabib could be tempted to come back for just one more fight in pursuit of an unprecedented 30-0 record – with UFC boss Dana White going so far as to state that he believes Nurmagomedov could be persuaded to return.
Khabib maintains that he has little athletic interest in sequels against either McGregor or Poirier, fighters he has defeated inside the UFC cage in the last two years.
“Let me enjoy it, it’s nice to be the current champion,” Nurmagomedov said at a press conference in Moscow early Wednesday, promoting his new fight league, Eagles Fighting Championship, when asked about his future plans.
“Why do you want to take the belt off me straight away? I haven’t honestly thought about it. It will remain like that (his status as champion) until I see him (Dana White).”
White, though, doesn’t appear ready to let one of prized assets walk off into the sunset, quite literally, without a fight – and Khabib says he expects the UFC president to offer him big-money deal to return for one final Octagon swansong.
But who might that be against, should it come to pass? All signs suggest that the most lucrative option for all parties would be a rematch between the Russian and his fiercest rival, McGregor, but Khabib says that he has no “sporting interest” in fighting the Irishman, or a second bout with Poirier.
“First of all, (White) will offer money, I think,” Khabib said.
“I choked both of them out. There’s no sporting interest there. Both of them tapped. If there’s money. Imagine someone offered you $100 million, [then] that will be a problem. In sporting terms, I don’t see any interest there.”
McGregor and Poirier will rematch at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi on January 23, with Khabib likely to be in attendance as his cousin and teammate Umar Nurmagomedov is set to make his Octagon debut on the same card.